Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Sunday’s Indy 500 begins at noon.
Sunday marks the arrival of the 100th Indianapolis 500 and a chance for sporting fans to see the continued evolution of a must-see sport.
The event is a chance to see traditions such as the renowned milk toast. It’s a chance to see legends such as Ed Carpenter, history-chasers such as Juan Pablo Montoya and Hollywood-esque stories such as the one surrounding James Hinchcliffe.
Most important of all, it’s a chance to take in some of the most competitive racing that folks will see all year.
With such a theme in mind, here’s how to catch the action.
2016 Indy 500
When: Sunday at noon ET
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|1||James Hinchcliffe||Josef Newgarden||2|
|3||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Townsend Bell||4|
|5||Carlos Munoz||Will Power||6|
|7||Mikhail Aleshin||Simon Pagenaud||8|
|9||Helio Castroneves||Oriol Servia||10|
|11||Alexander Rossi||Takuma Sato||12|
|13||Scott Dixon||Marco Andretti||14|
|15||JR Hildebrand||Charlie Kimball||16|
|17||Juan Pablo Montoya||Tony Kanaan||18|
|19||Sebastien Bourdais||Ed Carpenter||20|
|21||Gabby Chaves||Max Chilton||22|
|23||Sage Karam||Conor Daly||24|
|25||Pippa Mann||Graham Rahal||26|
|27||Matt Brabham||Bryan Clauson||28|
|29||Spencer Pigot||Stefan Wilson||30|
|31||Jack Hawksworth||Buddy Lazier||32|
This isn’t a bad thing, but the Indianapolis 500 is the same old thing in many ways.
Going down at the same time of year at the same place with some of the most familiar faces is a way to keep tradition alive at one of the globe’s biggest sporting events.
Speaking of tradition, the aforementioned milk celebration dates back to 1936, according to USA Today‘s Heather Tucker:
IMS will provide milk for 100,000 fans seated in the frontstretch grandstands who want to join in toasting the winner. Fans also can purchase the milk ahead of time in 16 oz. servings. It has been customary for the winner to quaff milk in victory lane since Louis Meyer began the trend with buttermilk after his third win, in 1936.
Some traditions are too important to retire. Other factors, such as the evolution of the sport and better competition for all, continue to push the envelope each year.
Small tweaks here and there such as in the aerodynamics department continue to drive down times and increase competition while the biggest names and manufactures duel each year.
Past winner Rick Mears spoke on the subject with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Ralph N. Paulk.
“The technology has driven it,” Mears said. “I think there’s still a competitive competition among the manufacturers. One thing we don’t have is complexity and turbines running against V8s and four cylinders, because in today’s world, you try to get equalization.”
Said competition is diverse, too, as a graphic from USA Today illustrates:
A look at the 100th #Indy500 starting grid. pic.twitter.com/ip7QZoxEpq
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) May 28, 2016
That said, the sport continues to evolve in this area as well. Pippa Mann, who lines up 25th Sunday, will push the sport forward for women, as ABC News detailed:
Lone woman in the Indianapolis 500, Pippa Mann says female drivers face sponsorship hurdles https://t.co/xRqTGbfh7P pic.twitter.com/CJ1nE8Go3R
— ABC News (@ABC) May 28, 2016
The grid of diverse names and manufacturers has a little bit of everything.
Starting at the top, Hinchcliffe is on fire after winning the pole and offers the heartwarming story of a driver who almost lost his life in a wreck last year at the same event.
Will Power is a growing force in the sport out of the sixth spot, while Simon Pagenaud is by far the most dominant driver in the running. He’s a winner of three races in a row and has yet to boast a finish worse than second over five outings, so he’s arguably the top favorite to watch.
A little farther down the board is Helio Castroneves, a three-time winner who is looking to cement himself in history with another victory and milk toast. Scott Dixon lines up next to Marco Andretti and wouldn’t mind adding another win to his name, while Andretti would simply like to get a win and set himself apart from the rest of his family tree.
Montoya and Carpenter are a little farther down but in no way out of it because they start 17th and 20th, respectively. When a seasoned veteran starts farther back, it simply gives him more time to dissect the pace of the event and make strategic moves to climb the board.
It’s easy to see why fans flock to this event. Forget the sheer entertainment of the speed and high-risk passes—this Indy 500 boasts more storylines and star power than ever before.
For 500 miles the noise fades Sunday and the drivers simply let loose after a year of buildup. One exciting event and milk toast later, the hype machine begins its march again.
Stats and information courtesy of IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com unless otherwise specified. Odds courtesy of Odds Shark.